Impacted Wisdom Tooth: Frequently Asked Questions

Posted on: 30 June 2023

Otherwise known as third molars, wisdom teeth are the last set of teeth that erupt. Typically, wisdom teeth erupt in early adulthood. Unfortunately, if the wisdom teeth do not erupt properly, a number of issues can arise. Here are the answers to a few frequently asked questions you might have about impacted wisdom teeth.

What Is an Impacted Wisdom Tooth?

Quite simply, an impacted wisdom tooth is a tooth that simply hasn't erupted fully or properly. Ideally, all four wisdom teeth will erupt straight and will not cause any problems. Unfortunately, if the tooth only partially erupts or comes in crooked and crowds the other teeth, it can lead to a host of problems.

Are There Different Types of Impacted Wisdom Teeth?

There are two main types of impacted wisdom teeth: hard impaction and soft impaction. A soft impaction refers to a tooth that has come through the jawbone but has not made it through the gums. A hard impaction means that the tooth is still completely covered by the gums and jawbone.

What Are the Symptoms of an Impacted Wisdom Tooth?

For many lucky people, their impacted wisdom teeth won't cause any problems and will remain under the gums or jawbone. Unfortunately, in other cases, the impacted wisdom teeth will cause a host of issues and symptoms, including:

  • Swelling and pain
  • Headaches
  • A sour or bad taste in the mouth
  • Bad breath
  • Pressure
  • Tooth decay and gums disease
  • Infection

If an impacted tooth partially erupts and grows in crooked, it can cause tooth overcrowding. Unfortunately, in this case, in addition to removing the impacted tooth, the dentist will need to perform other procedures to help straighten your teeth.

How Will Your Dentist Treat an Impacted Wisdom Tooth?

If you suspect you have an impacted wisdom tooth and are experiencing pain, swelling, and headaches, visit your dentist immediately. Your dentist will perform an exam and take X-rays to confirm the diagnosis. In most cases, if the tooth is impacted and causing pain, an oral surgeon will remove the tooth.

If you have several impacted teeth, they will be removed at the same time. If only one tooth is impacted, but you have multiple wisdom teeth that have not erupted, the surgeon might recommend having all four wisdom teeth removed as a precaution. The surgery is typically an outpatient procedure, meaning you won't have to spend the night in the hospital.

Impacted wisdom teeth are common and often require surgery. Contact a local dental office, such as Dentistry For Children & Adolescents, to learn more.